New Voices Student Leaders Institute 2023

July 18 – 27, 2023 Online

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About the Institute
How to Apply
Meet the Class of 2023-24
Meet SPLC Staff and Guest Speakers

About the Institute

SPLC is proud to host the annual New Voices Student Leaders Institute, a free online program for high school students to improve their leadership and organizing skills, develop their role as leaders within the New Voices movement, and identify the best strategy to expand student press freedom in their communities. 

Participants in the all-online program will be joined by SPLC staff, New Voices leaders, and special guests to learn their unique capacity as organizers, deepen their understanding of civics, lobbying and press freedom, and expand their ability to act as advocates. By the end of the Institute, Student Leaders will identify the pressing needs in their state and local communities and the unique ways in which students can respond, as well as possess the tools necessary to combat these challenges. 

Participation in the Institute is free, but students will commit to serve as student leaders in the New Voices movement during the 2023-2024 advocacy year. 

Meet the Class of 2023-24


Photo of Alexa Fo

Alexa FoMonte Vista High School

I am Alexa Fo and I am a sophomore at Monte Vista High School in California. In the coming year, I will be the Feature Editor for my school newspaper, The Stampede. I feel strongly about New Voices because I want to work towards effective change so that all students can use their voices to freely express their thoughts without their words being censored. 

Myesha Phukan Mountain View High School

Photo of Myesha Phukan

My name is Myesha Phukan, and I am a sophomore at Mountain View High School in the Bay Area, CA, where I serve as the Arts + Culture Editor for my school newspaper, the Oracle. I only recently became aware of New Voices when an article I co-wrote on sexual harassment came under scrutiny of the administration, who then continued to have heavy involvement with the story, and the final version: an article with half the details, and half the impact it could’ve had. Even living in a New Voices state, I have seen firsthand the applications of censorship, and the dangers it poses to scholastic journalism. I believe that student journalism is the past, current, and future, and censorship poses a threat to all of that. Being a New Voices advocate would allow me to help others struggling with the same issues I have, and educate those who aren’t as familiar with New Voices protections on their rights.

Kalyani PuthenpurayilMonta Vista High School

My name is Kalyani Puthenpurayil and I am excited to serve as a co-Editor-in-Chief of Monta Vista High School’s news publication, El Estoque during the 2023-24 school year. This will be my third year on staff, and throughout the years, I have recognized and appreciated the importance of student journalism. Living in California, there are more laws to protect us from censorship, however, there are still challenges that we face. I want to advocate for those who have to face such challenges through the New Voices Student Leaders Institute. 

Anika RaoCupertino High School

Photo of Anika Rao

I’m Anika and I’m from San Jose, California (the bay). I enjoy baking, reading, and walking my dog when I’m not writing for my school newspaper. Democracy and grassroots movements are super important to me, and rallying a community to make changes is what I’m passionate about. New Voices’ mission and its interests in the rights of student journalism affect me as a student journalist who wants to ensure that her writers are fully aware and free to write about any story they wish to without having to worry about the threat of lawsuits. I believe that freedom of press, regardless of age, is our most important right, due to its impact on everything from casual conversations to neck-and-neck elections, which is why I am so eager to work for New Voices!

Noah WilsonDe La Salle High School

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My name is Noah Wilson. I live in Walnut Creek, California, and attend De La Salle High School where I am the founder and Editor in Chief of the school newspaper, the Winton Oracle which has run for 2 years now. I believe that the New Voices Institute will provide a significant opportunity for both my staff and me to enhance our newspaper and benefit the students we serve. Participating in this program will allow us to expand our knowledge and understanding of free speech, particularly in relation to the unique challenges faced by private schools that are not entitled to the same free speech rights as public schools. By gaining a deeper understanding of these issues early on in our newspaper’s journey, we can ensure that our publication maintains good journalistic integrity and operates within the laws and guidelines that govern journalism. This investment in our knowledge and adherence to ethical practices will not only benefit us in the present but also have a lasting impact, setting a strong foundation for years to come.


Chloe RetuyaSacred Heart Academy

Photo of Chloe Retuya

My name is Chloe Retuya, and I am a student from Cheshire, Connecticut. I became involved with New Voices because I have a strong passion for advocacy and human rights, and I hope to go into a career within this field in the future. Becoming a part of New Voices allows me to become more educated as an advocate for student press freedom and to participate firsthand in standing up for student rights. I strive to be a voice for the silenced, an advocate for the oppressed, and a helper to the struggling, and New Voices enables me to do this as I grow as a student leader.


Charlotte HandelDreyfoos School of the Arts

Photo of Charlotte Handel

Hi! My name is Charlotte Handel and I’ve lived in Jupiter, Florida all my life. At my school, I’ve been heavily involved in debate for extemporaneous speaking and newspaper as the Public Relations editor. For fun, I play on the varsity girls soccer, varsity golf team, and a little guitar. New Voices is an empowering program for student journalists that can provide me with the skills I need to follow journalism as a career and as a passion.

Imani Majors Lake Highland Preparatory School

Hi my name is Imani Majors and I am a rising senior living in Orlando, Florida. I am a writer and editor for my schools newspaper, and am apart of the national Teens for Press Freedom workshop group. I feel strongly about the work that New Voices does, and am so happy to be apart of this institute to not only share my lens and perspective to this organization, but to learn so that I can try and affect my surroundings in regards to press freedom. 


Rebekah BushmireMcIntosh High School 

Photo of Rebekah Bushmire

My name is Rebekah Bushmire and I am a rising senior at McIntosh High School where I have been immersed in the journalism program for multiple years. I am the Editor-in-Chief of our newspaper, the McIntosh Trail, where we won multiple awards for our work. I am also the Managing Editor for our yearbook, the McIntosh Legend. Pressure from higher powers to censor content is real and palpable. Too often do I hear stories of students censoring themselves from fear of administrative response and too many times have stories appeared where administration has silenced the voices of student journalists. I believe in the freedom of the press, and I believe it is essential for young voices to be heard through the cacophony of censorship and administrative backlash. I believe student journalists have the right to pursue and publish the stories that matter to them in an ethical way without fear or hesitation from administrative response. To experience liberty, the press is not a nicety to enjoy. It is a cornerstone. It is the Fourth Estate. “The liberty of the press is essential to the security of the state.” – John Adams

Grace LovejoyMcIntosh High School

Photo of Grace Lovejoy

My name is Grace Lovejoy. I’m a freshman and rising sophomore at McIntosh High School in Peachtree City, Georgia. I am on the McIntosh Trail Journalism Staff. I’m from New Jersey, but I moved to Peachtree City, Georgia, when I was 3 months old, and I’ve been here ever since. I was on my journalism staff in middle school, so this would be my fourth year involved with journalism. I enjoy talking about the hard topics. I like having discussions with fellow journalists about their opinions. I also enjoy sharing my thoughts in writing. I am the writer who will take the pitch staffers are afraid to talk about. I believe more staff writers shouldn’t be afraid to go after these topics, and I would like to contribute and make New Voices.

Emilia ViscarraLake Oconee Academy

Hi! I’m Emilia Viscarra, a rising sophomore from Lake Oconee, Georgia. I’m a published writer in many different genres, and a big dreamer. I believe anyone can do anything they dream of, no matter how big or small the feat. I feel strongly about New Voices because I believe everyone deserves the right to their voice and their opinion. 


Maggie LeBeauGlenbard East High School

Photo of Maggie Lebeau

My name is Maggie LeBeau and I am a senior at Glenbard East High School in Lombard, Illinois. I am passionate about New Voices because I believe in quality journalism, integrity, and diverse perspectives. I am the editor-in-chief of the student news, play the violin, serve as co-president in the school orchestra, am a school board liaison, and participate in Girl Scouts. Outside of school, I work for Media Wise as a Teen Fact Checker. In my free time, I like to keep up with current events, draw, write, and listen to music. After high school, I want to major in journalism and political science. 


Lilli RobeyPaul Laurence Dunbar High School

Photo of Lilli Robey

I’m Lilli Robey and I am from Lexington, Kentucky. I feel as though students in my state often feel hopeless when it comes to large matters that directly affect us. Since most of us are still minors and can’t vote, it often times feels like we have little to no say in our own lives. This program could help others like me make our voices be heard in places where we have been silenced for far too long. 

Luisa SanchezBoyle County High School

Photo of Luisa Sanchez

I am Luisa Sanchez (she/her). I am a rising sophomore at Boyle County High School. I am originally from Colombia, though I’ve been living in the U.S. for over 8 years now. I feel strongly about New Voices because, even though as students we can have hopes, plans, and aspirations for a better society, if our voices are not heard, our goals may be hindered. I believe in acting towards positive change; hence, I believe student voices and goals on the matter should be supported.


Sravya Reddy GudaParkway West High School

Photo of Sravya Reddy Guda

My name is Sravya Reddy Guda and I am going to be a sophomore at Parkway West High School in STL, Missouri. I will be entering my second year in our school’s journalism department as a member who will be producing and telling stories in the format of video journalism. Outside of journalism, I am also a member of Speech & Debate, our Theatre Department, an international non-profit, and an Indian Classical Dance called Bharatanatyam among other activities. I feel strongly about New Voices because it is an amazing opportunity for me to build knowledge about an amazing platform I have to share stories with my peers, and develop essential life-long skills including my communication abilities, developing my writing, and my video editing skills. I look forward to this opportunity, and can’t wait to get back into the school year with the new knowledge and support I will receive as an advocate for student press! 


Jane McGillOmaha Central High School 

Photo of Jane McGill

Hey my name is Jane McGill and I am a high school junior at Central High School in Omaha, Nebraska. I have two years experience as a student journalist at our student paper, The Register. I mostly write about the goings on at my school but am inclined to write about issues in the greater Omaha area from time to time. I feel that New Voices is so important because at a time when local newspapers are disappearing, student journalists are becoming vital sources of information for their communities and deserve the same first amendment protections as professional journalists. 


Adelaide BarlowCorning/Painted Post High School

Photo of Adelaide Barlow

Hey everyone my name is Adelaide Barlow. You can call me Addie. I am a rising Senior from Corning-Painted Post High School in New York State. A lot of my time is spent in Drama Club and as a section leader for the Competition Band at my school, including ski racing every weekend during the winter/spring season. I feel strongly about New Voices because as a member of the Tesserae Yearbook program I have seen the importance of every student’s voice being heard. Mental health struggles and overall teen health is not something that should be shied away. We need to be given the resources to talk about these issues; New Voices is the answer. 

Camila CabreraMonsignor McClancy High School

Photo of Camila Cabrera

I am Camila Cabrera, I am from Queens, New York. My parents are from Ecuador and came here as adults. I was raised alongside my two older brothers and my grandfather, who I adore. I go to a catholic school on a mentorship that helps pay my tuition. I live in a community that struggles with unity and support. I feel strongly about New Voices because I know of the support and help they give to help fix these problems and combat these challenges.

Khush WadhwaStuyvesant High School

Hello, my name is Khush! I live in Bayside, attend Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan, and am an editor for the Stuyvesant Spectator’s Sports Department. As someone with an independent newspaper and faculty adviser, I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am to be unaffected by the Hazelwood standard. However, during my time at the Spectator, I have witnessed the publication of a plethora of controversial articles that would likely have been blocked by an administrator at another school. I believe that all students should be able to exercise their voices, and thus believe that the Student Journalist Free Speech Act is critical to the development of our rising generation of journalists across the state.

Rooke WiserThe Masters School

Photo of Rooke Wiser

Hi! My name is Rooke Wiser; I am 16 years old and a rising junior at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry. I am originally from a small town called Nevada City, which is located near Sacramento, but I moved to Westchester when I was five. I first got involved in politics when I was nine years old, during the 2016 election, and I’ve now had the privilege of collaborating with over 20 organizations working towards building a more egalitarian society! I’m passionate about New Voices because, as a gay man, I understand the importance of amplifying marginalized voices and silencing those perspectives


Vanessa ChenConestoga High School

Photo of Vanessa Chen

My name is Vanessa Chen, and I am a rising sophomore at Conestoga High School, PA. At school, I am part of the marching band, tennis team, peer mediation team, and school newspaper, the SPOKE. Currently, my academic interests include media, marketing, and business, and my hobbies include writing, art, photography and music. I am passionate about New Voices because being on my school’s newspaper has taught me the importance of finding your voice and your place in the community. I hope to learn more about student journalism and help contribute to society in a meaningful way.

Christopher DenkovichFreedom Area High School

My name is Christopher Denkovich and I am a junior at Freedom area high school. I am the Editor in Chief of our school’s publication the FHS Press. I have worked with New Voices the past two years because I strongly stand against the censorship of student voices and believe that students should be able to tell stories that matter.

Amy LiaoCentral High School

Photo of Amy Liao

My name is Amy Liao, and I’m from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I’m a rising senior and incoming Co-Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper. I feel strongly about New Voices because I believe we can gain a comprehensive understanding of our rights as student journalists and learn about potential challenges and obstacles we might face, such as censorship or limitations on free expression. By amplifying my words and perspectives, New Voices is a great opportunity for me to make a great impact in and outside of my community, sparking meaningful conversations and driving positive change.

Nicole Lupo State College Area High School

Photo of Nicole Lupo

My name is Nicole Lupo, and I am from State College, Pennsylvania, where I attend the State College Area High School. I was introduced to journalism as a sophomore, where I experimented in different forms of media before becoming a yearbook page editor my junior year. I really enjoy yearbook because of how it is a combination of different skills such as design, photography, and writing. These skills, and journalism itself, is an important representation of our community which makes our productions incredibly meaningful. For these reasons, I believe New Voices serves an amazing function. It empowers students to represent their school, creates a forum for meaningful conversations, and ultimately will help bring people together–values that also fit with mine. I believe it’s my job as a leader in my journalism and school community to advocate for these qualities and so I hope to do everything possible in supporting this movement.

Ayaan ShahEmmaus High School

Photo of Ayaan Shah

My name is Ayaan Shah, and I’m a rising junior from Eastern Pennsylvania. I am the Editor-in-Chief of my high school newspaper, The Stinger, for the 2023-24 school year, having previously served as a Deputy News Editor and Managing Opinion Editor.  I enjoy writing editorials, and recently won first place in editorial writing in the Keystone Media Awards and third place in the Pennsylvania Press Club Awards.  I like reading about history, writing, and shaping bonsai trees.


Claire BradfordBellaire High School

Photo of Claire Bradford

My name is Claire Bradford, and I am from Houston, Texas. I will be serving as an editor and business manager for my school newspaper in the coming year. While my dream is to pursue education law, student journalism is a major passion of mine as I seek to tell the stories of those without voices. New Voices combines my dreams and passions together into the perfect way to give back to my community and uplift my peers in a state that regularly tries to silence what needs to be heard.

Dominic PlataLake Ridge High School

Photo of Dominic Plata

My name is Dominic Plata, an incoming Senior at Lake Ridge High School in Mansfield Texas. I was the editor in chief of my yearbook for the 22-23 school year and I will return as editor in chief for the 23-24 school year. I joined Yearbook my second semester of my Freshman year which allowed me to dive into the world of journalism alongside photography and design, which is what I was more interested at first. Now, I see journalism as a vital part of our socio-economic lives that can impact every aspect from who we talk to and what we talk about to the stock market and causing spikes and crashes. I feel like student journalists are never treated as fairly as adult journalists, which while it makes sense as we are still learning, our voices should never be discounted just because we’re younger, we have just as much say and just as many views as our peers who have been working in this profession for years. We are able to provide new insight and information to an audience of both our student peers and adults, but we’re not fully protected by the law in Texas which is a disservice to our work.

Isabella SilerioMansfield Lake Ridge High School 

Photo of Isabella Silerio

My name is Isabella Silerio. I am from Grand Prairie,Texas and attend Lake Ridge High School as a rising senior and have aspirations to be a broadcast journalist. I am a strong advocate for woman and Chicano voices, and hope to amplify that through my work. I hope to work with everyone to protect student journalists rights and make sure all voices can be heard and never censored.

Marium ZahraYoung Women’s STEAM Research and Preparatory Academy

Photo of Marium Zahra

My name is Marium Zahra, I am a high school journalist and artist from El Paso, Texas and I immigrated to the United States with my family in 2009 and ever since then I have lived in a melting-pot of different cultures at the border-town of the U.S. and Mexico. The New Voices campaign provides a voice to the voiceless and advocates for the freedom of speech, this is something I feel very passionately about especially because of the current fascistic regime in my home country in which both journalists and families who choose to speak out against the regime are being harmed for speaking the truth. As someone who chooses to express themselves through writing and art everyday, being stripped away of a first-amendment right is something unimaginable for me and this program allows me to participate in advocating that every citizen has the same right. 


Adrian NgDeep Run High School

Photo of Adrian Ng

Hello! My name is Adrian Ng and I’m a rising senior at Deep Run High School in Glen Allen, VA. I have a deep passion for representing freedom of speech, public advocacy, and equity. At my school, I serve as the President of the Minority Student Union where we hold cultural events to spread diversity, equity, and inclusion within the community. Additionally, I’m currently a student researcher at the Center for International Research at the University of Cambridge where I’m currently researching racial equity, environmental racism, and migration. I believe New Voices is essential to representing student voices that may be censored by the media and even within the legal system. Representation in youth advocacy can kickstart pathways of change and the New Voices Student Leaders Institute defends the protection of student rights and youth journalists to enable authentic self-expression.


Kiley ClarquistPewaukee High School

Photo of Kiley Clarquist

My name is Kiley Clarquist, and I am a rising senior at Pewaukee High School in Wisconsin. I have been in my journalism course for the past 3 years, being the yearbook editor in chief for 2 and a writer for our magazine. We personally have worked a lot with SPLC to attempt to gain more press freedom in my high school, yet I am ready to take it to the state level and be able to make change. What we are working towards is extremely important to not only student journalists, but the consumers of our media who are not able to get true news due to restrictions. I am also a firm believer that in order to teach and raise good journalists, we must allow them to experience what journalism truly is- not a condensed, censored version of it. 

Simon MehringStoughton High School

Photo of Simon Mehring

I am Simon Mehring, a soon-to-be Junior at Stoughton High School in Wisconsin. I serve as my school’s newspaper Associate Editor In Chief, where I enjoy writing about politics and government. I have worked with state lawmakers and members about the importance of New Voices and their support for student journalism. I am passionate about this legislation because my local school district tried to remove our district policy protecting our paper from prior review and censorship years back. I now serve as my district’s student representative on the school board, where I work not just to protect and expand the rights of student journalists but also to advocate for the common good of my district’s students.

Meet SPLC Staff and Guest Speakers

Hillary DavisAdvocacy and Organizing Director, Student Press Law Center

Hillary Davis has been an organizer and state lobbyist for more than a decade. She has advocated for and alongside youth on issues of student’s rights, the First Amendment, racial profiling, and criminal and juvenile justice. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan and a BA in sociology from California State University, Northridge.

Bonnie Jean FeldkampOpinion Editor, The Courier Journal

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp (she/her) is a Kentucky native who has lived in the commonwealth for most of her life. Before joining The Courier Journal staff, she served on the Cincinnati Enquirer’s editorial board and was the Media Director for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Bonnie is also an award-winning syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate.

Mike HiestandSenior Legal Counsel, Student Press Law Center

Mike Hiestand has been integral to SPLC’s success since 1989. He was an SPLC intern, its first legal fellow and then served as full-time staff attorney from 1991-2003. Over the years, he has assisted over 18,000 student journalists and advisers. As the SPLC’s Senior Legal Counsel, he currently works from the west coast on the SPLC hotline and related projects. In 2013-14, Hiestand traveled around the country with free speech icon Mary Beth Tinker, teaching and speaking out on behalf of student press rights and free expression. “Tinker Tour USA” kicked off on Constitution Day at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and logged just under 25,000 miles while speaking at schools, colleges, churches, a youth detention facility, courts and several national conventions. Hiestand, who grew up in Alaska, graduated from Bartlett High School in Anchorage and went on to Marquette University’s College of Journalism and Cornell Law School.

Kellen Hoard – Student Advocate, New Voices West Virginia

Cathy Kuhlmeier – Plaintiff, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier

Grayson MarlowAdvocacy Associate, Student Press Law Center

Grayson graduated with a BA from NYU Gallatin, studying journalistic ethics and minoring in Law and Society. While in college, he joined SPLC as the advocacy intern, helping to develop new resources for the New Voices program. After graduating, Grayson rejoined the staff as SPLC’s first Advocacy Associate in June 2023.

Adam Morfield – Executive Director, Civic Nebraska, and former Nebraska State Senator

Daniel Mosher – Chief of Staff, New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh

Andrea Negri – Journalism Education Association Scholastic Press Rights Committee

Andrea Negri, MJE, teaches digital media and advises the Carillon yearbook at Bellaire High School in Texas. In addition to serving on multiple committees for the Journalism Education Association, she is secretary for the Association of Texas Photography Instructors and contest director for the Texas Association of Journalism Educators. Negri received JEA’s Distinguished Yearbook Adviser recognition this spring.

Kristin Taylor – Director, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee and Adviser, Archer School for Girls

Kristin Taylor, MJE, teaches scholastic journalism at the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles, where she advises the award-winning online newspaper, The Oracle, and the yearbook, Hestia’s Flame. Taylor has been serving as JEA SPRC director since 2020. Taylor was one of four advisers nationally to be named a Distinguished Adviser by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association in 2020. She can often be found standing on a soapbox, shouting enthusiastically about the importance of student press freedom.

Ben Shapiro – Student Advocate, New Voices Pennsylvania

Ben Shapiro is a rising senior at Conestoga High School outside of Philadelphia. He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Spoke, the school’s student newspaper, and an anchor and director for Good Morning ‘Stoga, the school’s student-produced daily broadcast show. He attended the New Voices Student Leaders Institute in the summer of 2021 and has been an active member and lobbyist for Pennslyvania’s branch of the movement since. He is a passionate advocate for the First Amendment and has experience fighting (and beating!) censorship in his school. 

Mike Simons – New Voices New York, yearbook adviser at Corning-Painted Post High School and 2021 Adviser of the Year

Rainesford Stauffer – freelance reporter and author of All the Gold Stars

Seth Stern – Director of Advocacy, Freedom of the Press Foundation

Ariana Tzanos – Student Advocate, New Voices New York

Ariana Tzanos (she/hers) is a youth organizer based in Queens, NY. She co-leads the Youth Civics Initiative, connecting young people to opportunities in the youth activist movement and publishing news articles from the perspective of young people. Ariana has organized young people on political campaigns, crafted legislation with local elected officials, and lead numerous lobby meetings, including many about New Voices legislation. She’s passionate about holding elected officials accountable (and collecting their staffers’ business cards).

Ariana believes that communicating through written means is often less frightening than spoken word, and we must build coalitions to ensure young people have the freedom to express themselves in their schools. 

Outside of New Voices, Ariana loves to paint, take walks, and listen to audiobooks.

Previous Institutes:

  • 2022 New Voices Student Leaders Institute - Learn more about the 2022 New Voices Student Leaders Institute and meet the participants.
  • 2021 New Voices Student Leaders Institute - New in 2021: Beginning advocates welcome! The Institute will include two tracks, one for experienced New Voices advocates who want to take their leadership and organizing skills to the next level, and one for new advocates who want to be a big part of New Voices.
  • 2020 New Voices Student Leaders Institute - SPLC is proud to launch the first-ever NEW VOICES STUDENT LEADERS INSTITUTE, a program for students to develop their leadership and organizing skills and expand their role as leaders within the New Voices movement.